Honda’s Formula 1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto says he backs Max Verstappen’s demand on reaching the podium at every race in 2020, while he hints at raising the Japanese manufacturers’ own targets compared to last year.

Following a successful first season in partnership with Red Bull which resulted in three wins for Verstappen in Austria, Germany and Brazil, Honda has relished the opportunity of a stable winter with its two teams and unchanged engine regulations to build on its momentum for the upcoming season.

With a solid showing at pre-season testing, which saw Red Bull and AlphaTauri bank over 1,500 laps combined at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona as each team surpassed 100 laps per day, Yamamoto is optimistic Honda has a handle on its reliability as it aims to avoid a single engine penalty for 2020.

But looking at outright performance, Honda also feels it can make a step to close the performance deficit on its front-running rivals Mercedes and Ferrari to be competitive at every track on the F1 calendar.

“We are making every effort to be there and fight for the championship,” Yamamoto said. “We had some unfortunate races last year, losing out in some of them, but we must avoid having those sort of races this year. Max says he wants to get on the podium at all the races, which is an aim we must support.

“There are no real specific targets, but speaking about last year Helmut [Marko] kept saying five wins and my view was probably four wins.

“In the end we had three wins, but there were a couple of races where we missed out such as Mexico, and the other one was probably Monza, so we could have won more.

“As Honda we have to make sure that we provide everything for Max and Alex [Albon] as well for them to be able to race and maximise each potential result. Then we will be able to see how many we can win.”

Yamamoto also believes having Honda-powered drivers secure 11 podiums at 11 different tracks across the 2019 season it can theoretically fight for victory at over half the F1 circuits this season.

“Last year we had 11 podiums - nine for Red Bull and two for Toro Rosso - so my view is there are 11 circuits where the Red Bull teams have some sort of an advantage,” he said.

“We have to see how many we can win among those 11, because those are the ones where we have opportunities.”f

 

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